The prevailing view that brick and mortar stores are dying is quite the opposite of what I can observe. Yes, we can see a few brands reducing their retail stores and a few closing their shops but blaming it entirely on online competition is not fair as there have been cases of closure in the online retail sector too. Look at the situation today, an online heavyweight such as Amazon is vying for offline market share, This itself says that the offline segment is still attractive and profitable.
A critical point often overlooked is that online and offline are not mutually exclusive channels. A smart company will integrate both into their commercial strategy, but a smarter company will not just integrate but also customize and personalize it as per their customer’s preferences.
Even today online sales account for 18% of overall sales, so more than 3/4th of the sales are through offline channels. Now if 3/4th of the sales are offline, why offline retailers are suffering so much? The answer is simple: they have ignored the changing times and failed to evolve and adapt to customer needs. It doesn't matter if a store has tiles made of gold and diamonds if that's not what the customer wants, it will not be able to sell.
Take Audi for example, by offering both physical and digital experiences through their Audi City showrooms. They offered more than just a product; they provided a one of a kind experience that is unique to each customer. From a customer point of view, this shows that Audi cared about them individually, which is a compelling thought as this helped them see an increase in customer engagement, loyalty, brand equity, and sales.
Today's customer buying trends, when compared to 20 or 30 years ago, vary drastically. It is no more about pushing the product from the shelves into the hands of the customer. It is all about providing "the" experience to the customer. It is what is expected from today's modern retailers. I research a product online, but if there is a possibility to experience the product offline, then I would choose offline store experience over the convenience of online shopping, this is called the ROBO trend ( Research online, Buy offline) which is more prominent in the consumer electronics segment. So how to handle such a consumer trend? By playing GOD i.e. by being omnipresent. By Covering all the consumer touchpoints through omnichannel experience, the retailers become customer-centric. I don't need to emphasize how vital being customer-centric is as I believe it is the most crucial factor which determines success; Jeff Bezos will vouch for my statement.
The bottom line is: Having a balanced omnichannel strategy with customers expectations in mind, by offering an experience instead of just a product, by being customer-centric; retail can not only survive but also thrive.